Thursday 16 June 2016

The Gorilla

I began translating the songs of the great French singer-songwriter, Georges Brassens, about 15 years ago. Here's one of my very first translations of Brassens into English - "The Gorilla"

Western lowland gorilla taken by Kabir Bakie at the Cincinnati Zoo July, 2005
Here are the lyrics:
The Gorilla a (singable) translation of Le Gorille, de Georges Brassens
Translation copyright © 2012 by MoyshelĂ© Rosencrantz - unauthorized reproduction prohibited

Twas across the bars of a cage
That our womenfolk used to gape
Irregardless of their age
Contemplating a powerful ape
These ladies without any shame
Even ogled a certain part
Which my mother strictly forbid me to name
Within this work of art
Beware the gorilla

Suddenly the safe prison
Where the animal used to strut
Opened up—no one knew the reason
I suppose it was badly shut
The ape, leaping out of captivity
Said “I’m going to lose it today!”
He was referring to his virginity
I think it is needless to say
Beware the gorilla

The zookeeper looking befuddled
Cried “Y’all must be out of your mind,
This gorilla has never coupled
With a female of its kind!”
As soon as the feminine party
Heard him pronounce this fact
Instead of grabbing the opportunity
They scattered like frightened cats
Beware the gorilla

Even those who, I have to assert,
Had been eying him earlier on
Fled, which proves these incurable flirts
Were only leading him on
All the more groundless was their fear
As a gorilla's hugs are firm
Those of a man do not even come near
As many a lady can confirm
Beware the gorilla

Only two were now left in the premises
Who had barely managed to budge
A little decrepit old Mrs.
And a young n’ respectable judge
Seeing the crowd disappear
The gorilla began to accelerate
Wobbling and coming near
To the old dame and the magistrate
Beware the gorilla

“Bah,” the old lady sighed
“That I can still excite desire
It's extraordinary and besides
I lost all hope such a thing could transpire...”
The judge who was callous and sensible
Said “that I should be thought to belong
To the race of apes is quite impossible!”
What follows will prove he was wrong
Beware the gorilla

Now suppose, though I know it's not funny
You would one day be forced like the ape
To ravish a judge or a granny
Which one would you choose to rape?
If ever I were so unlucky
As to find myself in the same boat
I'm convinced you will not call me picky
If the old lady gets my vote
Beware the gorilla

But while the gorilla's technique
In love has been equaled by few
History has found him weak
In both his taste and his IQ
So rather than choose the old damsel
Just like anybody else would
He grabbed the judge by the ankle
And dragged him into a nearby wood
Beware the gorilla

What followed is quite a delight
But this tale must be cut in half
Which is really too bad as it might
Have given us all a good laugh
For the judge in the moment of truth
Yelled “mommy!”, began to cry
Just like the criminal youth
Whom that very day he condemned to die
Beware the gorilla

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